Alford Golf Club are celebrating the club’s juniors winning the prestigious Felicity Trophy for the first time.
The team of eight, 13 to 17 year olds with handicaps ranging from four to 11, beat Buckpool 6-2 in Saturday’s final of the tournament played at Duff House Royal Golf Club.
“We are absolutely delighted,” said Alford Junior Convenor, Neil Buchan. “This is a high-profile, prestigious event and we have never got beyond the early stages before.”
Alford’s consistency and commitment helped them to fend off the region’s junior teams during a season long effort in which each team played opponents at home and away at each stage of the knock out draw.
Alford opened their account with home and away wins against Inverallochy GC before things got harder. They progressed through round two after a home win and away draw with near neighbours Inverurie. Then in the semi finals, they narrowly clinched a victory over holders Duff House Royal after losing away but winning with a better combined score at home.
Supported by a large Alford crowd at the weekend, 17-year-old Alford Junior Captain Mark Reid led his team to a well earned final victory against Blackpool.
“Our guys produced some fantastic results which was an amazing achievement,” said Buchan.
“It was a squad of 12 that won this trophy rather than a team of eight so it was a difficult job leaving so many of the juniors out of the playing team.
“The team showed huge commitment, cancelling their plans so they could play in the final. Even the local juvenile football manager cancelled this weekend’s game so two of our players who are in his team could be there, and so he could be there as well to support the team. “One of our players had injured himself on Friday but limped round the course and won his match, only finding out later he had three broken toes and ligament damage.”
Alford’s transformation from Felicity Trophy first round losers to tournament champions has been some five years in the making.
The club was one of the first to come on board with the national programme clubgolf and was voted Junior Club of the Year in 2009 for giving local juniors opportunities to take up the sport and get coaching.“Everyone in the team has been part of our clubgolf coaching at some stage of their development, either here at the club with the volunteer coaches or feeding into Stage 3 coaching with the pros at Inchmarlo or Meldrum House,” said clubgolf volunteer coach, Neil Cobban.
“Up until two years ago the Alford juniors had never had their own medals, playing only in adult competitions but now we have created a medal competition during the week
“Added to that is the Paul Lawrie Foundation which run stableford competitions for Under 15s almost every other weekend. This again provides them with the opportunity to play some of the North East’s fantastic golf courses. They are now getting the chance to play more and more golf and as a result are getting their handicaps down. That gives them confidence and they are going out and playing in the big competitions and performing well in these quality fields . This shows in one of the team getting to the finals of the Paul Lawrie Matchplay and another went on to win the North East Boys stroke play. You can see in our squad the increased confidence. This weekend shows everything is beginning to come together.”